Jon Baldur Sigurdsson (formerly Department of Zoology, NUS),RIP

Jon Baldur Sigurdsson, formerly of the Department of Zoology at the National University of Singapore, passed away in Iceland today. Cynthia Lee who relayed the news said, “He went peacefully surrounded by his son and grand-daughters.”

He was such a story-teller, field biologist, academic and friend. RIP.

2015 04 29 09 48 12

Nepal Earthquake disaster relief – donate via Mercy Relief and Singapore Red Cross

To donate via Singapore Red Cross

Singapore Red Cross
  • Cash – SRC will be accepting walk-in donations starting Monday 27 April 2015. Please visit the Red Cross House, 15 Penang Lane, Singapore 236486, from 9am to 7.45pm (extended fro 28 Apr 2015) on Mondays to Fridays, and 10am to 3pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.
  • Cheque – Please make your cheque payable to ‘Singapore Red Cross Society’, indicate ‘Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund’, donor’s name, contact number and address at the back, and post it to Red Cross House, 15 Penang Lane, Singapore 236486.
  • Online Donation – Donate via SG Gives or Simplygiving
  • DBS Internet Banking (from Wed 29 April 2015) – DBS iBanking > Payment Services > Bill Payment > “Nepal Earthquake Relief”; select deposit account and enter telephone number as the Consumer Reference Number and donation amount
  • DBS / POSB ATM – ATM > English > enter PIN> “iBanking, Cashcard and More Services” > “Credit Card/Bill Payment” > “Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund”; enter telephone number (Bill Reference No), select account type, enter donation amount and press “Confirm”
  • For enquiries, please call the Singapore Red Cross hotlines at 6664 0501 or 6334 9154 from 9am to 6pm on Mondays to Fridays or email
  • The appeal will end on 31 May 2015.

Source: SRC Press release, 26 Apr 2015, Channel News Asia, 26 Apr 2015 and SRC Facebook page, 28 Apr 2015. Please check the Singapore Red Cross webpage for the latest press release.

To donate via Mercy Relief

Mercy Relief
  1. Cross cheque to Mercy Relief Limited with ‘Nepal Earthquake Relief 2015’ written on the reverse, and mail to Blk 160, Lorong 1 Toa Payoh, #01-1568, S310160
  2. Cash donations at Block 160 Lorong 1 Toa Payoh, #01-1568, S310160
  3. Funds transfer to Mercy Relief’s DBS Current Account 054-900741-2
  4. Credit Card donation via (GIVE page, click on ‘Nepal Earthquake Relief 2015’)
  5. Tele-Mercy: 1900-112-1010 ($10 donation), 1900-112-1050 ($50 donation)

Source: “Mercy Relief to deploy disaster response team, launch nationwide fundraising for Nepal earthquake.” Channel News Asia, 26 Apr 2015. For updates, please check the Mercy Relief webpage for the latest press release.

Learn more

  1. Google News – link
  2. BBC – link
  3. New York Times – link

Bucket Science Symposium 2015 – “Science is Magic!”

The MW5202 class of 2015 present their projects at the Singapore Science Centre in a bucket science symposium, which is a tradition of the module – 2014 [webpage, photos], 2013 [webpage, photos].

This year the class used weekly for their symposium webpage, as it provides a better webpage feel. You can see the programme there:

The MW5202-2015 class began preparation on 18 Mar 2015, and had carried out a Wired Symposium exercise by then, and would develop their personal demos over the next few weeks. Andreas Dewanto and myself will observe and grade this final assessment of the class.

It’s a long way since preparations and the chatter on What’s App was voluminous! They have begubn to turn away registrants as the Mendel Auditorium is full. I am looking forward to an entertaining day at the Science Centre for the audience!

2015 03 18 20 22 4819 mw5202 2015symposium prep2


Recalling a wonderful thing which happened last year – students wow the audience at the Evening of Biodiversity II

The mammal seniors of Otterman Holt did well that evening and the crowd amazed us – 400 turned up (we maxed out parking) within a week of the announcement and enjoyed heartening talks of great clarity and pace.

When I ended the Evening of Biodiversity II with a “Aren’t they lovely?”, Prab Nathan positioned behind the table, caught the audience applauding, nice work!

While searching for photos of teaching, I finally really examined this photo. Wow, we did this last April?

2014 04 16 21 03 12 evebiod prab

The Evening of Biodiversity II (16 Apr 2014) featured talks by Amanda Tan, Chloe Tan, Marcus Chua, Meryl Theng, Fung Tze Kwan & Xu Weiting of the Otterman Holt, Department of Biological Sciences, NUS. Hosted by N. Sivasothi aka Otterman.

This was the simple announcement I made on Otterman speaks which we circulated to contributors of mammal records in addition to the usual circulation channels. Some members of the nature community observed happily that the crowd included many new faces, which was a happy indication of having reached people beyond the regular community.

The event was storified by Ivan Kwan and photos taken by Prhabagaran Ramanathan are on Flickr.

The first session in 2010 featured Andie Ang, Marcus Chua, Xu Weiting and Chua Yi Teng. Photos from the Evening of Biodiversity I (16 Apr 2010) are on Flickr.

I guess we’ll do this once in four years? 2018 then!

My research students 2014 04 16 21 24 53 evebiod Prab Nathan

Our nature reserves and their buffer parks

‘Instead of developing prime land for other uses, this plots are set aside for park use and complement and buffer the Nature Reserve, providing alternatives to relieve the pressure at nature reserves’ – Mah Bow Tan, 2001.

Buffers to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (163ha, 1883)

BTNR buffer and nearby parks
Map from OneMap.

Buffers to Central Catchment Nature Reserve (?2,880ha)

  • Springleaf Nature Park (6 ha, opened 01 Nov 2014)
  • Chestnut Nature Park (80ha, announced 16 May 2012; completion 2015)
  • Windsor Nature Park (75ha, announced 14 Feb 2015; completion 2016)
  • Thomson Nature Park (planing stage)
Windsor NP and other buffers map
Map from NParks

Buffer parks around the nature reserves and forest restoration sites (2019)

I will write a new post when the Rifle Range Nature Park opens soon. Collectively, this will all the Central Nature Park Network, a new concept which takes into the account the connectivity between the sites to better safe guard our fragmented habitat patches.

Vote for Singapore’s National Butterfly!

Hop over to to vote for your choice from the six nominees by end-April.

National Butterfly voting competition

The Nature Society (Singapore) campaign webpage states:

“The main component to the campaign will be the vote to select our National Butterfly. Singaporeans and Permanent Residents will be given the opportunity to choose their National Butterfly – one which best represents the spirit of Singapore! Six species have been shortlisted by a panel of experts for the public to vote on.

Singapore National Butterfly

We perceive that the National Butterfly will be an ICON for butterflies of Singapore. It will also serve as a voice for other lesser studied but important insects like bees and beetles that share the same habitat and contribute towards our environment.”

Mingko likes the common rose because it bears the national colours and many of us love the painted jezebel, which looks like a water colour painting, and reasonably common and thus accessible. It is doing well after the dry period and exceptionally so this year. Everyone in Singapore should know this butterfly.

I myself voted for the black and white Idea (common tree nymph) because this is a lovely denizen of our precious forests and seems to float like cloud in the dappled groves of our nature reserves. I first met Idea during an undergraduate field trip and have been enchanted ever since.

If you are a teacher, the webpage hosts a powerpoint resource pack you can download to provide students with some appreciation for butterflies in Singapore.

NSS National Butterfly Voting
Photos by Tea Yi Kai.